Aug. 23, 2007
Editor's note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Thursday, Aug. 2, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2007-08 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
IOWA CITY -- Words like drive, intensity and work ethic flow easily when speaking of University of Iowa soccer player Claire Goldenberg. But sacrifice is a more encompassing term when referencing the senior defender.
Goldenberg was a three-time captain and all-West Suburban Silver performer at Oak Park River Forest (Ill.) High School. The two-time team most valuable player recorded 67 career goals including 25 as a senior -- both school records. But in order to play at the Division I level, she had to give up the offensive glory and adopt a defensive mentality.
"If I wanted to play at Iowa, I had to play defense," Goldenberg said. "I could struggle on the bench and wait for a chance to play forward, or I could possibly play right away at defender. I just love to play and now I really enjoy playing defense."
Last season Goldenberg started all 19 of Iowa's games, scoring the game-winning goal during a 1-0 upset victory against No. 21 Indiana on Oct. 20. She has played 50 career games (with 42 starts) for the Hawkeyes and was named Academic All-Big Ten three times (2004-06). Goldenberg was recognized as team most improved player in 2004 and defensive player of the year last fall.
In high school Goldenberg lettered in soccer, basketball and football. Although she easily could have become a big fish in a small pond at Division II or III, Iowa was always the place where Goldenberg felt destined to attend. Her father went to the UI, both parents are native Iowans and her great uncle, Wallace Bergstrom, was a member of the 1939 Ironman football team.
"I loved visiting the University of Iowa and I felt like this is where I always wanted to be," Goldenberg said. "I loved the campus and the people I met and when I had an opportunity to walk on to the soccer team, I knew there was a chance I would play."
The Hawkeyes were 5-26-6 during Goldenberg's first two seasons, but they exceeded that victory total by going 6-11-2 in Coach Ron Rainey's initial campaign in 2006.
"Claire is the type of player we want in our program," Rainey said. "She's successful in the classroom as well as on the field and that's the type of person we're looking for. She leads by example and is one of the most consistent, hard-working and enthusiastic people on the team."
"Claire is the type of player we want in our program. She's successful in the classroom as well as on the field and that's the type of person we're looking for. She leads by example and is one of the most consistent, hard-working and enthusiastic people on the team."
Ron Rainey, UI soccer coach
Last season Iowa opened with four wins and a draw in its first seven matches. Goldenberg was named to the Gopher Invitational All-Tournament team (Sept. 17) and the Soccer Buzz Elite Team of the Week (Oct. 25). She netted her first career goal in the second overtime against Indiana while anchoring the Hawkeye defense in two shutouts against top 25 teams that week. Goldenberg also made a clutch defensive save late in the second half against No. 17 Purdue to preserve Iowa's second-straight shutout (0-0) and help the Hawkeyes to their first unbeaten Big Ten weekend since 2002.
"Claire can read plays, step in and intercept passes," Rainey said. "She's thinking at a different level than some of the players out there."
By moving to defender, Goldenberg not only forfeited an opportunity for goal-scoring glory, but at the same time exposed herself at a more vulnerable position where nearly every move is scrutinized.
"If you mess up as a defender, everyone knows you made a mistake," Goldenberg said. "Everyone knows when something goes wrong because a goal is allowed. But I look at that as an advantage because it keeps you on your toes. It's an intense position and you're constantly battling out there."
Goldenberg foresees a special future for Iowa women's soccer. She graduated last spring with a degree in finance, but is returning for an additional semester and a final run with the Hawkeyes while she completes an international studies minor.
"I'm really excited for the season," Goldenberg said. "Everyone has been working hard and it's been a team effort all the way."
Iowa is looking for its first winning season in soccer since 2002 when the Hawkeyes went 11-7-1. There have been three winning seasons in the 10 years the program has been in existence.
"No one likes to lose and now we know we're going to be in every game because we have the coaches we need and the players we need," Goldenberg said. "The struggles make rewards all the more worthwhile and I know if we work hard we can reach a Big Ten-contending spot."